Last Saturday, 11 top pharmaceutical companies and over 500+ prospective employees attended NIBRT’s annual Careers in Biopharma event in Dublin.

Now in its 6th year, this is the number 1 pharma careers fair in Ireland.

The day consisted of presentations from companies and an exhibition where job hunters could talk directly to staff members.

We chatted to all the attendee companies about what they’re looking for when hiring for operator and technician level roles. We specifically asked what candidates without previous experience could do to get their CV noticed.

Here were our 5 key takeaways…

Takeaway 1 – There are jobs… lots of them!

So this isn’t new news. We’ve spoken before about the number of new jobs expected in Ireland by 2020, and we’ve kept you updated about these announcements as they happen on our Facebook page.

Having spoken to the companies at the event, we can confidently say that they are hiring right now. For lots of positions. This is a great time to be job hunting in the pharma industry.

As expected, the number of jobs being created has led to a reduction in the “essential” criteria for getting an interview for an entry level job.

This is great news if you’re reskilling from a different industry. You’ve got a better chance now than ever before of getting an interview. Then it’s up to you to sell yourself.

This is a trend we expect to continue so it’s definitely not too late to start your reskilling right now.

Takeaway 2 – Enthusiasm goes a long way

While employers might be considering a broader range of candidates, they still need to see enthusiasm.

They’re looking for a passion to work in the industry and some initiative to gain the necessary skills.

Companies told us that candidates without experience face a much better chance of impressing them if they enrol in some sort of pharma-based education programme.

We know from our student success rate that people who’ve taken our courses are of interest to employers but it was great to hear it from employers too.

A candidate that has taken that first step themselves shows real drive and motivation to succeed.

Takeaway 3 – You don’t need to have a finished a programme to be employable

Closely related to the point above, many employers also confirmed something that we’ve thought for a long time – you don’t need to have finished an education programme to be employable.

Half of GetReskilled’s students get jobs before finishing their courses. And now we’re sure why…

Companies aren’t out there comparing candidate grades from across different education providers. Rather, they’re using the fact that someone is interested enough to study, as an indicator of a candidate’s motivation.

Many of our students tell us that they wouldn’t be comfortable to start job hunting until they’ve finished their course and/or received their certificate. But employers will happily hire them before that.

Every month that students put off job hunting, is a month of pharma-level salary that is lost.

Takeaway 4 – Networking is Key

Many companies told us that a recommendation from one of their own employees about an applicant is extremely beneficial.

The easiest thing to do with that news is declare that you don’t stand a chance because you don’t know enough people.

But what it really means is that steps you take to network and make more industry connections are vital. Don’t just accept the network you already have, actively go out of your way to improve it – especially within your target companies.

If you’re not sure where to start, our Advanced Career Coaching module walks you through the steps of effective networking to leverage the network you already have, and develop it to be even bigger.

Arguably, if implemented correctly, the lessons within that module could be more effective in getting you a foot in the door than your academic grades.

Takeaway 5 – Don’t Pass up any Opportunities

More than one company told us that attendees to that event had done themselves a huge favour. Just speaking to a staff member at the event is seen by some companies as advantageous and will be viewed favourably when applications are assessed.

So if you were there, well done, you’ve improved your chances of getting to interview just by taking the initiative to show up and chat to the company representatives.

If you weren’t there, don’t let the next opportunity pass you by. It’s probably not going to be a deal-breaker if you have a great CV and can sell your skills well, but why not give yourself every advantage possible?

Although not pharma industry specific, there are some other big career fairs coming up. You might want to check out:

Keep an eye on these sites for more dates and locations throughout the year.

And keep a close watch for other events local to you.

Finally, many companies are also running their own mini careers fairs. So make sure you’re connected to companies you’re particularly interested in, on social media.

Final Thoughts

In the current Irish pharma market, it is absolutely possible for a candidate without previous industry experience to get an entry-level job. It’s happening every week, all over the country.

The main tips:

  • Enrol in a pharma-industry education programme (and start job hunting straight away)
  • Work hard to develop your industry network
  • Attend any and all possible events where you can meet and speak to employers

It was great to see so many of our students at the event on Saturday – it really is the best careers fair in Ireland for those looking to build a new career in pharma manufacturing.

Well done to NIBRT for a great day!